VOICES Notes and news on Collector's Corner releases
20 APR 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
The Cal Tjader Trio -- originally released on 10-inch vinyl from sessions recorded in 1951, and newly issued on vinyl to celebrate Record Store Day 2013 (April 20th) -- marked the percussion master’s debut for Fantasy Records, with Tjader quickly showing off his vibes, drum and bongo chops in rhythmic tandem with bassist Jack Weeks while splitting the piano chair between John Marabuto and Vince Guaraldi (in his own recording debut).
You’d be hard pressed to come up with a tune that’s more played out than “Chopsticks,” but Tjader’s Latin-ized “Chopsticks Mambo” bursts into full and colorful bloom from his lively bongos and percussion. Tjader rips open the middle of “Ivy” with a double-timed passage that melts his percussion into a singular rhythmic blur, while “Three Little Words” shoots out of its gate like a sprinter and Guaraldi’s piano and Tjader’s drums match each other riff for riff.
Tjader’s vibes chime like a pealing Sunday morning church bell to sing this “Lullaby of the Leaves,” and delicately mirror the reflective melancholy of “These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You).”
The Cal Tjader Trio foreshadows the rhythmic and melodic genius that blossomed through the rest of Tjader’s career. These vinyl tracks emerged in the digital age on Extremes: Cal Tjader Trio/Breathe Easy (Fantasy, 1999), which opens with these eight tunes (Tjader’s first Fantasy sessions) and ends with his last Fantasy album, Breathe Easy (1977).
19 APR 13 DAVID VIENNA
Record Store Day (April 20, 2013) celebrates the local record shop with new and unique releases only available at brick-and-mortar stores. One such release is a 12-inch vinyl edition of Paul McCartney's radio-only version of "Maybe I'm Amazed." This track also appears on the upcoming re-release of Wings Over America.
America captures performances from Wings' mid-'70s tour. If you want to hear a streaming "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- which kind-of defeats the purpose of Record Store Day, but whatever -- you can do so at the Wall Street Journal blog. To locate a participating retailer near you, visit recordstoreday.com.
18 APR 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Dave Brubeck recorded numerous Distinctive Rhythm Instrumentals between 1949 and 1951 as the leader of a uniquely melodic trio with bassist Ron Crotty and Cal Tjader swapping between vibes, drums and percussion. Eight of the best instrumentals, a complete set of jazz and pop standards interpreted in Brubeck’s magical style, are back in vinyl circulation at retailers participating in the April 20 Record Store Day celebration.
Distinctive Rhythm Instrumentals might be Brubeck’s set, but Tjader defines the trio’s sound and vision by the instruments he plays. Tjader proves such a great partner for Brubeck -- they’re both articulate and intelligent and yet don’t let that intelligence get in the way of their simple joy in playing music. As drummer, Tjader establishes an airtight trio sound that helps Brubeck elegantly sparkle as he glides like an expert dancer through “Blue Moon” and (like Thelonious Monk) find new melodies in the oddest corners and angles of “Tea for Two.”
Tjader beats out an Afro-Cuban groove to reinvent “That Old Black Magic” as a Latin piano/conga discussion that’s both unconventional and hot. And his vibes radiate the perfect jumping, jiving sound for “‘S Wonderful” and the uptempo favorite “Sweet Georgia Brown,” through which the pianist chases his vibes player around and around like a kitten after a playful mouse.
15 APR 13 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Vocalist Honi Gordon was New York City's go-to jazz studio singer in the 1950s and early '60s, the golden age of bop. She appears on albums recorded by legends like Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton but released only one album as a leader, 1962’s Honi Gordon Sings.
Gordon is backed by A-list musicians, the heart of which is a piano trio consisting of Jaki Byard, George Duvivier and Ed Shaughnessy. She sings with a clear soprano and impeccable intonation reminiscent of a young Ella.
Honi was part of a family vocal group called The Gordons. Patriarch George Gordon Sr. was a composer who worked with Mingus, writing lyrics to his instrumentals as well as contributing originals to Mingus recordings. "Strollin,'" the opening track, is a vocal version of Mingus' "Nostalgia In Times Square," with lyrics written by George Sr. (Honi first recorded on the Mingus Dynasty album.) Gordon also had a longstanding musical relationship with pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams, recording for her for over two decades. Williams' "Walkin' (Out The Door)," a straight ahead 12 bar blues, is included in this set.
"Cupid" isn't the Sam Cooke version but a jazz ballad written by Sonnie Leonard with lyrics by George Sr. Honi first recorded it in 1953 with the family band and Hank Jones at the helm.
Critic Scott Yanow puts it best when he said, "Honi Gordon's obscurity is a mystery for she displays a great deal of talent…This is bop based jazz singing at its best."
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